by Linnea Nelson, Director of Religious Exploration.
If you know me at all, you have probably noticed that I’m a “doer.” I like to get things done and I get more than a little joy from ticking off to-do items. Once in a while, someone asks me if I have another job during the week, and I chuckle and tell them that this one keeps me busy “doing” all week long!
So, what is “church time”? It’s my name for getting things done inclusively in a way that values relationships, takes into account the varied ideas of stakeholders and leaves time for the amazing effects of collaboration. Sure, we could do some things in RE more quickly, but often that means skipping over the incredible conversations that lead to even better ideas and ways of doing things. I’ve seen it happen over and over again as a conversation with a parent or teacher leads to more discussion that helps us make good decisions for our families and teachers.
Church time is coming together time. I could be spiritual all on my own and I could read books or create amazing pieces of art (well, at least I practice the first two!), but church time requires that I spend the time in relationship with others – to learn from them, to be willing to grow, to be willing to change my course or get passionate about an idea that grew from a spark and was fanned by the flame of a teaching team … or even a committee discussion.
I believe that one of the most important things our teachers do at UUCF is meeting in liaison-led teaching teams, generally in August. Each team builds a special relationship that deepens throughout the year. They work together to create a teaching team covenant and they begin to think about how to handle various issues that are likely to arise in their class. What do they want to be called? Mr.? Ms.? Just first names? How will they handle communication with parents? With one another? And how will they support the unique children or youth in the class while helping each class create an identity and a stronger link to Unitarian Universalism? I think this team meeting, first instituted by Hanh Michael when she was on the RE Committee, is one of the reasons our UUCF RE program is so strong. It’s the collaboration among the teachers.
I also think these teaching teams give our children a sense of community and friendship. Children and youth see positive relationships modeled by their teachers every week. They see shared decision-making and adults having fun. They see the passion and the risk-taking (does every game work just as it is planned?) that lead to children feeling safe and cared for. In this world of so much hate, our weekly dose of love can be a strong and important component of each child’s experience.
So church time takes time. Thank you to all of the teachers for meeting intentionally over the summer to build community and to create a loving, engaging, friendly and UU-grounded home for our children and youth. And to our families, I hope that you will collaborate with your children’s teachers, the RE Committee and me to create a place where your children can learn some of the most important things in life. Yes, church time takes time, but it is time well spent.